We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test. —Isabel Allende
True to its name, Mosquito Creek is a hatchery and I have buzzy ones desperately batting their bodies against the alicoop. Life in the wilderness is constant vigilance. I hate to admit it, but I placed a large rock in front of a hole. It’s three feet from my tent, and the critters that dug it must have a back door.
I feel a lot better today, rested body and spirit. Just washing my toes in ice cold water works wonders, but I’ve also decided to go easy – reach for big miles if I want to, but set a reasonable pace and take as many breaks as needed.
It doesn’t take long for me to reach the final water before a long dry stretch ‘carry.’ I meet a hiker called Lisa with only a bandana as her sun protection for her face. She tells me she loves my curls, which are going wild after I wetted them in the icy stream.
The next section is a stiff uphill and I meet lots of hikers coming down, one telling me he’s “livin’ the dream.” I support the local habitat with a blood donation, discovering mosquitos are able to bite through merino. A group of four guys come through and I ask if they have bug spray. One guy in a Lawrence of Arabia cap sprays my arms and shoulders, another unhelpfully doubts I can be bitten through clothes, then suggests soaking my clothes in permethrin. I promise to do so in three days.
I come to a road with campsite and picnic table, but not until after crossing a ‘dirt road’ which appears to be in the process of disappearing.
Every hiker I pass on this long forest section wants to discuss bugs. Two gals simply wear netting like ghosts, others wear the head gear like I do, still others are convinced things change after the next forest road. They do – the mosquitos get bigger. I would have to say, this is the worst mosquito nightmare I have ever endured, many simply riding along on the head net seemingly stoned on my carbon dioxide.
A woman asks if things are good for bugs ahead and I assure her they are very good for bugs. In this beautiful forest of giant trees, Ravel’s ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ is running through my head. I decide to grab a snack and realize stopping is at my own peril, but I need the calories and to give my feet a break. I spy a beautiful lapis blue lake through the trees, absolutely idyllic in about a month.
I climb up out into the open. Mt Adams is in my rear view mirror. St. Helens is looking at me, benign now after her big blow in 1980. I am tired thinking about the recent unpleasantness. I don’t pick at the scab today, rather I rub in vitamin E and hope for a smooth scar.
There is a group of unhappy boy scouts straight out of The Far Side building log rafts at Blue Lake. One leader is wrapped up to his nose in a hammock. A cute section hiker named Paul finds me purifying water and tells me he sent me on the wrong trail. I am very happy not to get lost again.
Up and over Berry Mountain brings my mountains into view, especially Hood over layers of blue as Oregon beckons. Once over, the land is drier and the bugs disappear. I pass up two marshy lakes fairly certain I’ll find a better water source. And lo and behold, a couple of women driving up the road I cross offer me a PBR and a La Croix. Just what the doctor ordered! I pull up a log and down them fast before my last few miles.
I come upon another huge trail of lava rocks though I can’t determine where they came from. Lower down, water is diverted to a pipe for easy collection. I have been spoiled with so many streams and now water is becoming more scarce and I need to plan. I skip camping near the pipe and head up another few miles to a spot next to a hidden oasis of pools. A sign points to ‘watar’ and I head over to set the alicoop.
It is a lovely pool – and lovely site under giant trees. Two lady trampers are set with some cool tents. As it turns out, these tents are Light Heart Gear and the maker is one of the hikers. She gives me her full spiel on the tents as well as her hiking skirt and other gear between healthy sips of bourbon from a Platypus. I make dinner and we keep talking until I finally have to shut my eyes after such a fantastic day.
Even Zach arrives and stays at this lovely spot of a cool oasis, tent maker and her companion. And the best part of all? No bugs.